Novelist Carole Hayman's postcard from the cutting edge of London living - Shoreditch
Oo-oh, I'm so-o sa-ad. Lie in bed staring at blizzard of millennial fuzz on the telly. When the chips are down, this is all we will see in 2000. Bought boyfriend booster aerial for Xmas, but the building site has resumed hostilities and the mechanical digger plays havoc with it. Through the window, grey sky (or, possibly, grey window), the crane swings its arm towards me like a vast prehistoric monster, its eye winking malevolently. Duck beneath covers, whimpering. Got the Winter greys. Big time.

"It's four o'clock, get dressed," says the boyfriend sternly. Obey, gloomily donning my Xmas presents. Even new leather trousers, fab, fail to make me feel better. "Come on," the boyfriend encourages, "the Tarot reader said think positive." Sun, light, heat. That's positive.

Wander cold, grey streets, thinking of all I should be doing. Bills to pay, tax to sort out, unsuitable presents to return, family feuds to get mended. Groan aloud. A passing derelict offers me a can of Red Stripe.

Count 16 splatters of sick in the Kingsland Road. At least one, I happen to know, has been there a fortnight. Reminds me of my trainer's warning. First session this year, I fell at the third press-up. Trainer shook head. Basic message, shape up or die. Mens sana in corpore sano etc.

Right. No booze, fags or drugs. Especially drugs. Know these promises are futile. The only resolution I've really made is to take the lottery seriously.

Consider various therapies to while away the grey days, while my agents, editors, producers, friends, are all away skiing. Sit shivering, on broken bench and scan paper for redemption. There's a two-day course on finding the inner child. Fear mine has been lost so long it would take more than two days to find it. Perhaps a slimming weekend with light colonic irrigation. Light? Only the mechanical digger could shift the stuff I'm carrying. What about a sweat lodge? At least it would be hot. Or there's a cannabis retreat. Now that sounds more like it.

Feet drawn irresistibly to brightly lit travel agent. Posters of tropical places, red, orange, green. Colours that the Ditch isn't. The agent tells me Cuba's not cheap. Shake my head sa-adly. The derelict greets me as I return. Splash of red, momentarily cheering. He's still in his Father Christmas robes from a two-week gig at Harrods.

Inside, a power cut. All is darkness. Stumble over breeze-blocks, helpfully left in hall, tearing new leather trousers. Curse loudly. Blunder up pitch- black stairs and feel way to telephone, to call power company. At last I'm motivated. A girlie cybernaut commands me to enter my postcode after bleeps. Do so through gritted teeth. "I didn't hear that," the cybernaut complains. Repeat message, suppressing rage and enunciating clearly. "I didn't hear that." She's stuck in a groove. If she's like this already, God help her in 2000. Five attempts later, feel communicating with a blind, deaf mute would be easier. "You wanker!" I scream, now beside myself. "I did not hear that," the voice at the other end assures me.

Fall on the bed weeping. Hate this country, cold, dark, and full of cybernauts. I'm an artist, I need the sun! The sun! Now demented character in Ibsen. Boyfriend comes in with candle and pats my shoulder consolingly. "Had a call when you were out, babes. Pete wants me to do a shoot." "Goo... grey," I choke, trying to sound pleased.

"Yeh. Cuba." Cuba! Struggle up and check his face in the candle light. He looks at me kindly. "Wanna come?"Oh, Brave New Year that has such offers in it

Comments